Philippines kicks off National Youth Day celebration

Young people at this year's National Youth Day celebrations perform a dance number at the Cebu City Sports Complex on April 24. Photo: UCAN/Elmarc Lim

MANILA (UCAN/CBCPNews): At least 15,000 young Catholics attended the first day of this year’s National Youth Day celebrations held from April 23 to 28 in the central Philippine province of Cebu.

Delegates were welcomed on April 24 at the Cebu City Sports Complex, by Archbishop Jose Palma of Cebu, who arrived at the venue astride a big motorcycle. He told them that to “trust in the memory of God and his memory is not the hard disk that saves and archives all our data.” 

“God’s memory is a heart filled with tender compassion. One that finds joy in deleting from us every trace of evil,” the archbishop said. 

“So, God deletes evils in our hearts. He deletes our sins,” he told the gathering of young people.

He said the weeklong National Youth Day celebration this year is part of the “grand celebration” of the 500th anniversary of the arrival of Christianity in the Philippines slated for 2021.

“In the next five days, we join our hearts and voices in thanking the Lord for the gift of faith barely 500 years ago when Christianity came to our country,” the archbishop of Cebu said.

CBCPNews reported the archbishop saying that the Church needed young people who are not cowed in the face of difficulties, “dashed hopes and broken dreams.”

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He urged them not to flee from the resurrection of Jesus and not to give up to temptation against holiness.

“The Church reminds us that Jesus who is Risen from the dead walks with us in the journey,” Archbishop Palma said, adding “Whether we recognise it or not, Jesus walks with us.”

The first Mass is said to have been celebrated in the central Philippines upon the arrival of Portuguese explorer, Ferdinand Magellan, in March of 1521.

“We have a reason to be happy and thank the Lord because He has gifted us with his wonderful blessings,” Archbishop Palma said.

Bishop Leopoldo Jaucian of Bangued, chairperson of the Episcopal Commission on Youth at the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines, also extended his greetings to the young people.

“We hope that the youth will strengthen their faith in God so that they will be more active in serving others,” Bishop Jaucian said. 

He urged delegates to learn how to always stand for truth.

“Don’t be afraid to come to Jesus and listen to his voice, especially with the challenges we face today,” he said, adding, “Stand for truth. We need to stand for the truth of Christ and to live it.”

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